Robert Shaw’s second play, produced by Thistlewood Productions – a combine of Shaw, Vanessa Redgrave and Michael White.
The previews on 8th and 9th November were cancelled to enable Frank Dunlop to take over on the removal of Peter Gill. Neither would receive a director credit.
Cast & Crew
|Lord Sidmouth||John Arnatt|
|Susan Thistlewood||Vanessa Redgrave|
|Director (uncredited)||Frank Dunlop|
|Director (uncredited)||Peter Gill|
|Company Manager||Edward Burrell|
|Costume Design||Deirdre Clancy|
This is the unsigned user review that originally appeared above:
“Bob Hoskins was the unsympathetic state informant who turns in his fellow conspirators to the widely unpopular and tyrannical Tory government of Lord Liverpool in the 1820s. Staged in 1971, it was quite prescient of the right-wing Conservative government of Thatcher starting in 1979.”
I was still at school at the time and you have to remember these were the years of anti-Vietnam protest (remember Blair Peach RIP) Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, CND and trades union unrest. Plus of course Northern Ireland. There was a widespread Left wing feeling which was palpable in schools (Chris Searle and Risinghill) universities, workplaces and in the arts and media. The fringe theatre in London, of which the Young Vic, but especially The Roundhouse and Royal Court Theatre (eg the plays of Edward Bond) offered just one aspect of a grass roots culture which, following the right wing reforms of Thatcher including massive cuts to arts funding etc and political jerrymandering such as abolition of the GLC and ILEA, has retreated and been largely replaced by minority rights issues and social media/technology.
I think it is important to see Shaw’s 1970s Cato Street (as dramatised working class history similar to the work of Ken Loach on film or “Peterloo”) within that context and really treasure the effort made here, by a world famous highly successful actor of stage and screen who was nevertheless a committed socialist and republican, to uncover a hidden history of the English people which had been submerged beneath generations of orthodox establishment history teaching. It is important to balance this against the poor reviews the production garnered. My own (distant) impression of the evening was of a play built solidly around Vanessa Redgrave’s performance but going on for too long despite one or two dranatic moments and the obviously tragic finale. Bob Hoskins also made his mark… but nobody had a clue then what a major star he would become. Again we have two actors – and probably the whole production team plus much of the audience – in tune with the author’s values and the general feelings described above apart from, that is, the handful of critics.
The script is available as a paperback and I also have the original “programme”, really an A4 photocopied leaflet, of this production which I will use to fill in the missing details.
I did enjoy this play a lot at the time and was satisfied with its viewpoint which concurred with my own which hasn’t changed much. I had reservations about its dramatic quality, though it was quite in line with the great series of Young Vic productions under Frank Dunlop, and would love to see it again in a modern production.
That time, those times will come again…
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